One year ago today, I woke up in a hotel room with my Momma and all my closest girlfriends. We ate breakfast together and took our time getting ready with the assistance of my friend, Melissa, who came to do makeup, and my beloved hairdresser, Meghan, who spent her busy Saturday morning right before Christmas making sure my hair was exactly what I had envisioned. My aunts were busy in the rooms next to us with a complete flower shop set up, right there in the hotel, working tediously to make sure we had breathtakingly beautiful bouquets and boutonnieres. My cousins were busy hanging lights and moving tables and setting up decorations at the reception venue, which, although I had set the tone for the atmosphere I had in mind, I couldn’t wait to see the finished product. So much love from so many people went into making every detail of our wedding day unforgettable, and there’s no amount of thank you notes or hugs or tears that could ever even begin to express my gratitude.
I had an overwhelming sense of calmness about me that day, in the midst of the hustle and bustle and little details that could have easily stressed me out, but didn’t. I wasn’t stressed at all, in fact, in the quiet of my heart, I felt like Jesus had given me a gift that I would treasure for the rest of my life: peace when I needed it the most. It was like everything that had led up to that day: the years of goodbyes to the long-distance boyfriend of mine who I couldn’t wait to spend forever with, the months of planning, the weeks of marriage counseling with our sweet pastor who I’ve always considered family, and the last few days of running around like a crazy lady tying up all the loose ends… had all come down to the (second) most important day of my life (with the first most important day of my life being the day I asked Jesus to come into my heart) and all I could do was sit back and relish in Jesus’ goodness, in His faithfulness, in His provision, and in the love I knew could only come from Him.
When I met Grayson the first weekend of my sophomore year at Appalachian, I knew something was different about him. However, I never imagined that three years later I would be walking down the aisle to him smiling from ear to ear in a black tuxedo with tear-filled eyes. Only Jesus could have written our story, and I’m so glad that He did. Although Grayson and I did not see each other before I walked down the aisle, we did meet on the front steps of the church to pray together, with the front door separating us. Our hands were shaking and I could hear his gentle, but strong voice searching for the right words to say to the woman who would soon become his bride. We prayed over the marriage we were about to enter into and thanked our Father for leading us to that very moment, that very day. It is a memory I wouldn’t trade for anything, and it made the anticipation of seeing each other in just a short while that much greater.
My groom sang to me during our wedding, and I’ll never forget it. The words from Coffey Anderson’s “Better Today” felt like they were being written on my heart, and he looked into my eyes with every word. Our family came to the altar and laid hands on us in prayer, “I do’s” were promised, a sweet, simple kiss was exchanged, and we were announced as husband and wife for the first time. Then, we headed to the reception, where we ate and danced the night away with our friends and family and church family – all who had traveled to be with us for our special day – in the dark, in the cold, in the middle of December, right before Christmas, when they could have been anywhere else. It was like we were being wrapped up in the warm arms of so much love, and it was the greatest feeling in the world.
What a year it’s been! In the last 365 days, we have grown so much, both as a couple and as individuals, we have learned more about life and love and Jesus than ever before, and we have fallen even more in love than we were this time last year, on that crisp December day. We have experienced so many triumphs this year, accompanied by heartache too, like the death of a cousin we loved dearly and the tragic fire of the beautiful place where we became husband and wife. We have trusted our Father, we have seen His hand in the details, we have learned how to better work together and serve each other in love. It’s been a year of transitions and tears, but also of laughter and adventure. There has been so much joy, so much wonder, so much promise.
As we look back and reflect on this first year of marriage, we are thankful for where the Lord has brought us and excited to see where He’ll take us. We are excited about the new season of life that we are entering into, now, as parents-to-be, expecting our first baby in June 2016! This unexpected blessing has already taught us so much about Jesus’ goodness, and we are so thankful for the life growing inside of me that only Jesus can create. His will is perfect, His timing is perfect, and every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17).
So, happy anniversary to my forever love, my college sweetheart, my best friend. You point me closer to Jesus every day, you protect my heart, you challenge me to be better, you love me with tenderness and sincerity, and you are going to make a wonderful daddy. I am so thankful for you and this life of loving you, growing with you, and walking hand in hand through whatever adventures we face. The way you choose to love me every day, pursue my heart, and make Godly leadership of our little family your number one priority makes me love you even more. I can’t wait for 100 more years of loving you and holding fast to His promises. The best is yet to come!